One of my favorite devotional book series is the Ancient Christian Devotional, which is divided into three books, one for each year of the lectionary. This series pairs each scripture reading from that week’s lectionary with writings from the early Church Fathers and Mothers. Some of those featured are: St. Augustine, Brigid of Ireland, and John Chrysostom, who was an early Bishop and eloquent writer and speaker. One of the readings this week covers Matthew 14:13-21, where Jesus feeds the five thousand men plus women and children. Right before this miracle, Jesus had taken one of his moments to go away for a quiet time of prayer. One of the quotes on this passage was from John Chrysostom, “we have seen him on many occasions “departing”. We see this when John was imprisoned and killed and when the Jews heard that he was making more disciples. For it was his will to live his life in an ordinary rhythm of interaction and solitude.”
This is a theme that just continues to jump out at me. I talk about it often, because I am becoming more and more convinced that taking Sabbath is something we as Christians have to take seriously. Our world today encourages us to be hyper-plugged in, stay as busy as we can, as productive as we can at every moment. Productivity is great, having lots of interests is great, but those don’t need to come at the expense of our spiritual health, our families’ health, and our sanity. Much is demanded of us as Christians. We are people who are trying to do the best we can in our homes, jobs, and community. We show othersGod’s love while striving to make this world a better place. It is critical for us to have those times where we rest, to have those times where we are doing activities that feed our soul and to have those practices that feed us spiritually. Jesus said in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” The Sabbath is not supposed to be something made to inhibit us; rather it is a practice made to give us life. It is not being rigid about deciding what can and cannot be done; it is about engaging in those things that help mold us into the image of the Creator God; Who rested, by the way.
This past Sunday was the first day in August. I want to invite everyone into an informal challenge. Whether you use a paper calendar, one your phone, or make a list of weekly activities on the back of a used envelope; pick one day a week to be your rest day, your Sabbath. After choosing it, write it down, put it on the calendar. Then on that day, pay special attention to do activities that help you rest and restore. You may have to do some experimenting. At the end of this month, I would love to hear if there is something that you found that helps cultivate a restful atmosphere for you.
Thank you for all you continue to do, Edgemont. You are a blessing in so many ways.